After 22 seasons at LSU (13 as part of the women’s basketball coaching staff) and a season at UCF, Bob Starkey begins his first season with the Texas A&M Aggies. Bob helped guide LSU to four SEC Championships, 12 straight NCAA Tournament appearances, eight Sweet 16s, seven Elite Eights and five consecutive trips to the Final Four. He was a key component in the Lady Tigers’ outstanding record of 326-105 (.756) from 1998-2011. Bob passionately serves and resources the coaching community through his blog. You can also follow him on Twitter.
You’ve worked under coaching legends like Dale Brown, Sue Gunter, Van Chancellor and now Gary Blair. What are a few of the qualities that set successful coaches like them apart?
The one common denominator was the importance of the relationships that we develop—putting the student-athlete first, even beyond winning and losing—makes the difference in a long-term successful program. The other thing that was consistent among them was the ability to not just handle adversity but to enthusiastically look upon setbacks as great challenges that ultimately test us. The coaches that I’ve been fortunate enough to work for have stood the test of time and I believe a big reason has been they care about people and love challenges.
As an avid reader, what books do you recommend to coaches as “must reads”?
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey (I think this is a life changing book and I recommend it at every clinic that I speak at)
- The Art of War by Sun Tzu (James Clavell edit is my favorite)
- 360 Degree Leadership by John C. Maxwell (one of the best leadership books for assistant coaches)
- The Art of Living by Wilferd Peterson (my first gift from Dale Brown)
- Goals! by Brian Tracy (one of the best on this subject)
- Finding A Way To Win by Bill Parcells (Great blueprint to his success)
- The Carolina Way by Dean Smith (The Carolina value system)
- Finding The Winning Edge by Bill Walsh (love this one – but it’s hard to find)
- The Gold Standard by Mike Krzyzewski (great look into how he molded the Olympic Team)
- Today Matters by John C. Maxwell (great book to understanding the importance of today)
- Time Power by Brian Tracy (the best organizational book I’ve read)
- First Things First by Stephen Covey (another great organization book)
- How Lucky Can You Be: The Story of Don Meyer by Buster Olney (great book about a great coach)
What’s the best advice you received from a coaching mentor that impacts how you coach today?
Dale Brown taught me early and often that coaching basketball was simply a means to develop young people and make an impact on your community and society. Certainly we have to win enough games to keep our jobs to be part of this great process but Coach Brown believed that “winning” was molding the young people that we came in contact with—not just on the court, but in the classroom and in life as well.